Education Day: Successes and Challenges of Our Region
December 10, 2019
Members of the Signature Program Class of 2020 convened on November 21 for an examination of the successes and challenges in our schools to explore ways to support and advance the education system in our community.
The day began with school visits across the DC-region, with stops at pre-K, elementary, middle and high-school campuses. We heard from teachers and students eager to share their experiences to better inform leaders on their triumphs and struggles, and the passion they share for education.
After the school visits, we were welcomed at the Carlos Rosario International Public Charter School by CEO Allison Kokkoros ('14) where we enjoyed an enlightening panel titled, "The Regional Landscape of Education." Panelists Dr. Monica Goldson (’18) CEO Prince George’s County Public Schools, HollyAnn Freso-Moore, Principal, Harvard Street Campus, Carlos Rosario International Public Charter School, Ruth Wattenberg, President, DC State Board of Education and facilitator Mioshi Moses ('16), Genesys Works engaged in a high-level conversation on the inner workings of the education system in our region. We discussed ways our leaders and the larger community can support institutions and educators.
At the closing of the day, leaders assembled for an open question and answer. Signature Program facilitator Howard Ross ('91) encouraged the Class to share their own experiences candidly, "impact happens when we make it real for ourselves. Sharing our personal experiences is where the emotional connection comes from.” Below are just a few highlights from the question and answer segment.
Q: You mentioned that 82,000 students in Prince George's are on free and reduced lunch and it is important that we understand that. Could you talk about the impact of poverty and the general economy on our school district?
Monica: "These are families who bring their kids to school every day, we provide breakfast and lunch and in many of our schools, we send home non-perishables on Friday, and we send them home with everyone, so no one feels singled out. We often talk about the threshold for free and reduced lunch. When I think about school closure and roads, I have to think about 82,000 kids who won’t eat that day. More if I have to make that call on a Friday.”
Q: We hear a lot about teacher turnover. What were the key components of your ability to turn that around? How do we develop that communal feeling that we used to have that we are no longer always seeing in our schools?
HollyAnn: "The culture is about intentionality. Schools are constantly changing, the students are different, the families are different. The heads of those schools have to take up that mantle of community. Seek out the voices of students. Ask the community: what are your hopes, goals, dreams and how do we help them get there?"
Participants left the day with an increased awareness of the education system in our region in pursuit of being more engaged community stakeholders and leaders. For leaders in the program already leading institutions and organizations in the field of education, it was a chance to experience new perspectives first-hand, and cross-pollinate best practices.
Special thanks to our host schools: AppleTree (DC), Educare DC (DC), Capital City Public Charter School (DC), Templeton Elementary School (MD), Thurgood Marshall Academy (DC), Two Rivers Public Charter School (DC), Ballou High School (DC), Don Bosco Cristo Rey High School (MD), H-B Woodlawn (VA) and Parkdale High School (MD).